Sometime in the summer of '88, during Chapter 11's floundering road to eminent break-up, a lunchtime basketball acquaintance of Dad's encouraged him to check out a band named Roundtree that was looking for a keyboard player. The highly talented Roundtree had a solid reputation and at their high point several years earlier had been the number one cover band in the entire state, receiving top demand from nightclubs, company parties, proms, you name it. Though Chapter 11 was still a pretty good band, its inevitable break-up or re-grouping was something Dad wasn't looking forward to going through again, so he decided to audition for Roundtree.
It wasn't long into the audition that Dad and Roundtree both realized that this was going to be both musically and personality-wise a very good fit. They shared a similar taste in music and more importantly a common philosophy of how a band should be run, particularly in song selection. Roundtree was very strict about playing only songs that were big hits or "impact" songs. In Dad's previous bands too often someone would want to do a song that was a personal favorite but not one that will necessarily go over well to the public (Dad was as guilty of this as the next guy). Roundtree was very good at laying down the law that the song could not be of the "back-of -the record" variety. The strength of Roundtree's song list played no small part in their earlier successes and status as the top cover band in the state.
Well, to make a long story short, Dad joined Roundtree and has been with them to this day. Roundtree currently consists of the following members: Along with Dad on keyboards is Kerry Edwards as lead vocalist, Gary Conte on bass guitar, also the leader of the band (and Dad's business partner in Tony Rigatoni's restaurant), Pony Hale on drums, Joe Fluken on lead guitar (and Dad's financial guy), and Jeffrey Chisam also on lead guitar (be sure to check out the Roundtree HomePage).
When Dad first auditioned for Roundtree the band consisted of Gary, Kerry, Pony and Joe. These four members formed the nucleus of the band that had been together for the past 15 years. Since Dad's arrival Roundtree has gone through several changes. Joe retired after Dad's 2nd year with the band, and was replaced by Larry Odneal, who had since moved back from Iowa. Larry lasted a couple years with the band and was eventually replaced by Jeff Chisam. After several more years as a 5-piece band, the band added a sixth member for the first time in its history, a second keyboardist/vocalist named Jeff Burkett. Jeff became disgruntled after 8 months and quit the band amidst little fan-fare. Not long after that Joe Fluken came out of retirement to complete the current 6-piece line-up of Roundtree.
Roundtree flourished during Dad's first 5 years with the band, playing all the major nightclubs in Denver and often requested to be the "house band". Frequent nightclubs included Sunset Beach (Westminster), Ironworks (Denver), Patricks (Aurora), Junques (Broomfield), and Key Largo (Littleton). Toward the end of Larry Odneal's reign as lead guitar, though, the band began to lose its enthusiasm and eventually fell into an era of "seesaw lackadaisicalness" which has lasted to this day (lack·a·dai·si·cal (l²k" -d³"z¹-k l) adj. 1. Lacking spirit, liveliness, or interest).
Unfortunately for Jeff Chisam, this era of lackadaisicalness was in full swing by the time he joined the band. Jeff, however showed true dedication (and patience) for the band. After he was offered the lead guitar position following a lively audition, Roundtree held true to its new nature and went on a one-year hiatus! This self-imposed lull was due mainly to band burn-out. Finally, after talking with Gary that it was about time to get things going again, Daddy gave ole Jeff a call. Jeff, who had been waiting patiently by the phone for a whole year, was asked "OK, our first practice is this week, are you ready?" Jeff, of course was more than prepared as he had a year to get ready!
The band has had its moments since then, and always perform well when they actually get out and play. Unfortunately, the band's self-imposed "seesaw lackadaisicalness" continues unabated. Perhaps in these later years the band will go through a "revival" and regain the excitement and glory of years past! (yes, and maybe Bill Clinton will become a celibate monk).
One of Dad's most memorable moments with Chapter 11 was the time he was attacked by an Amazon woman at Junques Saloon. A woman in her mid-twenties had shown up in softball garb and immediately decided to pester ole Daddy. By the end of the night, she had become intoxicated and got obstinate with poor ole pops. While Dad was tearing down his equipment after a very long night, Ms. Amazon decided to blind-side Daddy by jumping on his back. Dad's pleas with the other band members to help were met with deaf ears, (and incessant laughter) so Daddy finally decided to take matters in his own hands and bucked her off and yelled "get off my back woman!" This only riled her more so she began demanding that Daddy give her his tie (wouldn't you know it, he was wearing his favorite one, his world-renowned black and white keyboard tie). Dad decided that no way was this bimbo going to get his tie, so he took it off and gave it to a friend, Don Sniffin, who proceeded to start playing keep-away with it with some of his friends. Dad was quite relieved to have the Amazon off chasing Don so he could get his equipment tore down and loaded up. About 5 minutes later, Dad noticed her running through the bar and out the door, WITH DAD'S FAVORITE TIE! Don later explained that after a long battle with Ms. Amazon, he had thought that he could secure the tie by stuffing it down his pants -- big mistake. Needless to say, the Amazon prevailed that night and Daddy had to go buy a new tie.
Other memorable moments for Dad include the time with Roundtree when Gary found a guy's wallet at a company Christmas party. Instead of announcing over the microphone the guy's name so that he could quickly come and retrieve his wallet, Gary instead announced that he had found a wallet and "would start giving clues". The poor guy didn't know what he was in for. Gary started off something like "Yea, we found someone's wallet. Let me see, there's a card in here from Shotgun Willy's (a strip bar in Denver), uh, here's a number to a massage parlor on Colfax. Let's see what else..." About that time a man came running up to the stage demanding his wallet amidst the laughter and teasing of his co-workers. Finally, who could forget the classic moment at Junques Saloon when a rough-n-tumble biker approached the stage in tears because the band was playing the Doors song Riders on the Storm.
[Fred Williams' Lighthouse Dawn now available on CD! Click here!]
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